Rhythm and lyricism held in perfect balance - Gramophone 2001

Score extract

Picture of Sadie

Sadie playing the piano


‘Intense concentration is the first concept to come to mind when listening to this music. Not so much the concentration required of the listener, though there is undoubtedly such a requirement, as this is not 'easy listening' by a distance, but the sense of distillation, of the concentration of the essence of a musical argument. Sometimes the textures are exceedingly open and deceptively simple; sometimes a good deal of surface activity serves to illuminate the emotional intensity flowing just beneath. The combination of surface sensuality and intense and rigorous content produces tensions that constantly fluctuate and flow, drawing the listener into a slightly uneasy sound world, individual and unusual.’
Records International 2007

‘a compelling, distinctive, and passionate compositional voice.’
Tempo 2003

‘music of a uniquely physical and spiritual presence.’
Dansk Musik Tidskrift 2006

Sadie Harrison was born in Adelaide, Australia and moved to England in 1970. She gained her Masters and Doctorate in Composition at Kings College, London studying under Nicola Lefanu and David Lumsdaine. Performances of Sadie's works have been given across the world by Lontano, London Chamber Symphony, Music Projects/ London, Ixion, Okeanos, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Gemini, also the Kreutzer Quartet, the Kaskados Trio, Double Image, Endymion Ensemble, Capricorn, the Tate Ensemble, New Music Players, Fiona Cross, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Kate Romano, Sarah Leonard, Stephen Gutman, Clive Williamson, Simon Limbrick, Lesley-Jane Rogers, Duncan Honeybourne, the Scottish Clarinet Quartet, Paul Carey-Jones, David Heyes, the Composers Ensemble, Kokoro and the St. Christopherus Chamber Orchestra, Vilnius.

Sadie’s music has been released to critical acclaim on a number of record labels, notably NMC, Cadenza, Sargasso, BML, Metier and Clarinet Classics. Taking Flight (MSV CD92053) was chosen as Classical London’s CD of the Month, February 2001.

Her Afghan-inspired disc, The Light Garden (MSV CD92084) was described in the press as:

‘without question one of the top recordings of the year, a ground-breaking release’
Musical Pointers

‘Hit the repeat button on your CD player and let the whole disc spin two or three times. Metier has accomplished something quite remarkable with Harrison’s amazing music and the Bakhtar’s vibrant playing. Indisputably one of this year’s best”
La Folia, USA;

and her most recent disc, An Unexpected Light (NMC D125), based on the folk music of the Northern Caucasus and Lithuania, gained unanimous praise,

‘NMC has struck gold! A wonderful sequence which held us enthralled, playing the programme through with only one brief pause; a marvellous 'concert' which builds on the legacy of Bartok's Kodaly's pioneering collecting long ago, giving 'cross-over' a new and enriched meaning; one to which we will return."
Musical Pointers

‘Sadie Harrison's unique fusion of elements from indigenous Lithuanian music and poetry with her own modernist, often abrasive style, have led her to be compared with Bartok, but her underlying empathy with the local people of this war-torn country shines through with a poignancy and warmth all of her own.’

Her music has been broadcast on both radio and television, on BBC Radio 3 and in Eastern Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, America, Lithuania, The Netherlands and elsewhere and has been selected for several international festival performances. She was the only composer chosen to represent Australia at the ISCM World Music Days 2002 and her clarinet concerto The Fourteenth Terrace was selected by the ISCM Australian Reading Panel to go forward to the World Music Days Zagreb 2005.

Sadie took an extended break from composition in 2008 to pursue a further degree and subsequent career in archaeology. She worked as a field archaeologist in Britain and abroad for three years, specialising in the Bronze Age pottery of the Carpathian Basin, in particular the fabulous Kosider Ware found in Hungary. A career highlight was taking part in the Channel 4 Time Team Series in 2010!

Since her return to music full-time, Sadie has continued her relationship with Lithuanian musicians, with new works performed at the Kaunas Festival 2012, and her violin concerto An Unexpected Light receiving a further performance by Rusne Mataityte in Vilnius in September 2012. Sadie has been working closely with double bass virtuoso David Heyes, writing a number of works for young and amateur bassists, most works now published by Recital Music, with several premiered by students from Wells Cathedral School in 2012-13. She has recently written works for baritone Paul Carey Jones performed at the Late Music Festival York in 2012 and has received several performances of Gallery, an extended set of solo violin pieces by Peter Sheppard Skaerved, in Britain and across Europe in 2012-13. The complete set will be recorded for broadcast in Nashville later this year.

Sadie is currently working on a piano concerto for Sergej Okrushko and the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra, Vilnius, a set of violin duos for the Retorica Duo and a new work for piano to be played by Ian Pace at this year’s Late Music Festival in York at Rzewski’s 75th Birthday Celebration Concert. Following the success of her work with the Scottish Clarinet Quartet and the Songs of the Earth Project, Sadie is working with Alex South on an ongoing project with the group and the exceptional Plockton Traditional Music School. She is also finishing a substantial piano piece for Duncan Honeybourne, in response to the music of William Barnes. This work, alongside Lunae: Four Nocturnes will be recorded for CD by Duncan later this year to be released by Divine Art.

Sadie’s music is published primarily by the University of York Music Press. A number of works for double bass have recently been published by Recital Music.

‘Rhythm and lyricism held in perfect balance.’
Gramophone 2001

"this is distinctive, pungent music that demands close attention."
Guardian 2005